University of Wisconsin–Madison

Picnic Point Mound Group

Burial mound on Picnic Point. Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison.

It easy to imagine the attractiveness of Picnic Point to the Native Americans who first occupied this area 12,000 years ago. With easy water access for canoes, abundant sources of food from the lake and marshes, and wide views in all directions, this area had clear advantages for occupation and subsistence.

Roughly 1-2000 years ago, local inhabitants began to bury their dead in the sacred mounds that dot the Point. Archaeological surveys have confirmed the presence of workshops, campsites, and perhaps even an ancient raised garden bed!

There once were seven mounds on Picnic Point, but one mound was destroyed prior to 1912 by relic hunters. Currently there are five extant mounds adjacent to the Lakeshore Path–across from Fire Circle #1. A sixth large hemispherical mound can be observed as you head out to the tip of the Point, on the north side of the Lakeshore Path just before you reach the Narrows. The Preserve contains many burial mounds and other ancient archaeological sites. Please respect these sacred mounds by staying on the marked trails.

Read about Native Americans and the Preserve and how the mounds were built.